Superstitious athletes use pre-game traditions to prepare for success

CELEBRATIONS: Senior Brett Nelson is congratulated by his teammates after sliding safely into home plate and scoring a run in the Varsity Red vs. White scrimmage game. The Red and White Day is an annual tradition kicking off baseball season, where all baseball teams play friendly games. The event also included live music, catering, and shopping.

Abbie Harris , Staff Reporter

As the Girls’ Varsity soccer team huddles up before their game against rival school JSerra, Senior goalkeeper Kelly Mcanus’s voice rings out amongst the sound of cheering fans, shouting words of encouragement and confidence to her team. After a series of chants and motions, the team breaks off, and McManus sprints to her position in front of the goal. She jumps into the air, touching the top bar of the goal, jumps up twice with a twist, and makes the sign of the cross. With a few claps of her hands and shouts to her teammates, she is ready to perform her best in the game.

Athletes from every sport have personal rituals and superstitions that give them confidence and help prepare them to compete. While countless hours of practice, exercises and drills ensure physical preparation, team traditions mentally prepare athletes for competition, according to members of the Varsity soccer, baseball, and cheerleading teams.

The girls’ Varsity soccer team gets ready for games with traditions such as pre-game locker room talk and personal and intricate handshakes between team members, all before walking out towards the field in lines of two. At home games, the team walks through the Alumni Plaza past the famous Monarch lion statue. Every athlete touches the belly of the lion, a tradition passed down year after year, hoping for strength and good luck as they face their opponent. 

“I feel like these traditions help to relax us and calm us down,” McManus said. “The same routine and repetition can help us with nerves.” 

The team also uses bonding events to bring them together, including a trip to San Diego. 

“We did this to connect personally, off the field, just so everyone can connect in a different way, instead of just soccer,” McManus said. “It helped us to feel more of a click and work harder for each other.”

Baseball, an infamously superstitious sport, is no stranger to pre-game rituals and traditions. Listening to music and coming together in prayer puts the team in the right mindset before heading to the field, according to senior Troy Smith, a catcher on the Varsity team.

The team also participates in the traditions observed by baseball players all over the country for generations. Athletes avoid stepping on the foul lines painted on the field, they do not speak to a pitcher who is throwing a perfect game, and all players except the pitcher do not touch the pitching mound.  

“We’re all locked in before every game because we all know we have the same goal,” Smith said. “These rituals add to it because we’re all doing the same thing, so it’s like a team bonding type of thing.”

Cheerleading, an activity newly recognized as a CIF sport, relies on several traditions to prepare them to perform at competitions. According to junior Ashlee Morales, a base and tumbler on the Varsity coed cheer team, pre-performance rituals settle her nerves before competitions. 

“…First we pray, and then we usually say a special chant before we go on,” Morales said. The chant, introduced to the team by head coach Katie Bowers, encourages the team to have confidence in their training and perform with perfection. 

“[These traditions] give me confidence,” Morales said. “They pump me up and get me ready to compete.”

Amongst the stress and pressure of competition days, teams create traditions to create a sense of unity and calmness as they step onto the field, go up to bat, or perform their routine. 

“I think [our traditions] put us all on the same page,” Smith said. “It adds to the morale of the team.”